The 3-Part Formula for Farmland Management: Technology, Process, Relationships

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Good farmland management is based on three related components: data-forward processes, strong relationships, and the right technology.

Excellent farmland management isn’t the result of guesswork and luck—staying on top of farmland maintenance requires strong organizational skills. You can develop these competencies over time, but as a general rule, you should pay attention to your farmland property with the same respect and commitment that you’d apply to any other asset. After all, for many landowners, their farmland is the most valuable asset they own.

To do this, you’ll need to adopt data-driven processes, leverage technology and develop strong relationships to ensure that you and your farmer meet your goals next season and in the long-term. Here’s how to address these three pillars in your own operation:

1. Establish data-driven processes for your farmland operation

When you’re looking to clean up your farmland management practices, the first step is to carefully examine the processes you already have in place.

Ask yourself how you expect to receive your rental payments and how you’ll decide whether or not to renew your current tenant’s lease. It’s important to think about how your farmer is doing and to keep tabs on your soil’s health.

Once you’ve opened up the hood on your operations machine:

  1. Decide what data is necessary. Look at the data you have on hand. Does it answer your questions? If not, you’ll need to identify and seek out other sources of information, whether through soil analysis or adopting new data collection practices in the season ahead.
  2. Set benchmarks. Using the data you have, analyze the current state of your farmland’s health and productivity. This is the basis on which you’ll set your goals.
  3. Establish goals. Decide where you’d like to see changes or improvements. Be sure to include a timeline, as change won’t necessarily happen overnight or even in one growing season.

This self-assessment is the first step in revamping your farmland operations, and it’s okay if you discover that you need more information. After all, there are more sources for farmland data available than ever before, which brings us to the second pillar.

2. Pay attention to your evolving technology and data needs

Technology is the number one tool for farmland management. Precision agriculture tools are widely available, and the data they generate can be an invaluable resource. Whether your farmer relies on Climate FieldView, myJohnDeere or another product, farmers today rely on this software to analyze the results of their operations, and this information is equally valuable to landowners.

If you’re working with farmers who use precision agriculture equipment but you’re not asking them to share the data these tools generate, you’re missing a major opportunity. It’s simple to print out a report, and if you know you plan to incorporate this data into your annual analysis, be sure to include data delivery practices in your next farmland rental agreement.

It’s also important to make sure you’re maintaining digital records of your farmland rental agreements and storing your records in an organized way. This can be as simple as establishing a naming convention for your digital files and entering data points into an Excel spreadsheet.

There are new digital farmland management options on the market, and if you’re looking for a user-friendly platform, try using Tillable’s to set up your next Hassle-Free Lease and track your farm’s data.

3. Build a strong relationship with your farmer

Although this is the third element in the formula for farmland management, it goes hand-in-hand with the first. You can make all the plans you want for your property, but unless you have a strong relationship with your farmer, you’re unlikely to meet your goals.

When you start to consider what your farmland management practices are and how you can improve them, don’t stop at asking yourself what your goals for the farm are. Reach out to your farmer and find out what they’re hoping to achieve in the next growing season and beyond.

As part of this conversation, you may identify that you need to start using new or different technology to get the right data to measure your farm’s progress. If they don’t want to share data with you, it may be time to start thinking about changing farmland tenants.

Your farmer will appreciate your investment in their stewardship of your land, and you’ll set yourself up for a committed relationship that supports executing a long-term plan for farmland success. It’s key that you develop a relationship built on loyalty and trust.

Strong communication around the outcomes you hope to achieve will help you both meet your goals for sustainability and profitability.

Use data to meet your goals for your farmland operation

There’s a vast amount of information available on the internet today aimed at helping farmland owners figure out how to improve their operations. By leveraging new technologies and agtech improvements, you can independently improve your farmland management skills and grow your knowledge base.

But this new information can be difficult to get a handle on and farmland management can be a lot of work. We understand that for some landowners it can feel overwhelming.

Tillable can help you find the right tenants and establish organized data practices to take care of your farm into the future without taking you out of the loop. If you’d like to learn more about how you can leverage data to meet your goals for the next growing season, reach out today to get the tools you need.

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